Bearing Up by Beverley Byrne

EXTRACTS FROM VILLAGE VOICE (VV) NEWSPAPER.

January 14th 2021

HONOURED FOR COMMUNITY WORK.

Celebrating ten years as Yeoward Fete’s President, our columnist, Councillor Winnie Wittering was honoured by the Parish Council. Postmistress Edna Dean and members of the Craft Club established by Ms Wittering, praised her dedicated work on behalf of the village. Presented with a handmade bedspread featuring individually embroidered Teddy Bears, an emotional Ms Wittering said, ‘Raising funds for our community means everything to me.’

March 31st 2021

VILLAGE SHOP UNDER THREAT.

Postmistress Edna Dean reveals lack of trade may force her to close Yeoward’s only shop. Derek Bolter, landlord of The Feathers fears for the village’s future saying ‘there’s nothing here for young people. Our village is dying.’

April, 23rd 2021

CELEBRITY MOVES TO LITTLE YEOWARD.

Influencer, internet sensation and Strictly Come Dancing finalist, Chanel D’Orca has bought The Old Rectory. Her TediBear online videos and Ted Talks promoting ‘bearing, sharing mindfulness,’ have become a global phenomenon. Glamorous Chanel tells VV, ‘I was like jobless, no boyfriend and no future. In desperation I started talking to my childhood teddy and it was like ‘Wow.’ Through TediBear I confronted my issues and sharing them on TikTok and stuff helped others face life’s challenges. Now we’re looking forward to finding new friends here in Yeoward.’

June 3rd 2021

PLANNING ROW.

A Parish Council meeting considering planning permission for Chanel D’Orca‘s iBear Village ‘eco dome glamping park’ in fields behind The Old Rectory ended in acrimony. Outvoted 9 – 0, Councillor Winnie Wittering resigned saying ‘Yeoward will never be the same.’

August 1st.

iBEAR VILLAGE GRAND OPENING.

Crowds cheered as Chanel D’Orca cut the ribbon on her eagerly awaited iBear Village. ‘Super excited to see my dreams become a reality,’ she told VV.

October 13th.

‘LOCAL CELEBRITY LAUNCHES ‘BUY A BEAR TO SHOW YOU CARE’ FETE.

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‘Edna!’ Winnie shouts while hammering on my door. The Village Voice, print version, has been delivered so she knows Chanel’s hijacked her fete. Unlike Winnie, who considers the internet ‘Devil’s Entertainment,’ I knew hours ago since, secretly, I follow Chanel on social media.

I open the door to see my old friend’s face florid with fury and normally conventionally coiffed hair resembling a burst mattress. She’s wearing an invisibly patched tweed jacket which once belonged to her mother and a silk scarf created from remnants. The newspaper she thrusts towards me features a photograph of Chanel’s trademark teddies lining the staircase in the Old Rectory. Beneath the caption blares, ‘CHANEL HOSTS NEW ONLINE FUND RAISING EVENT.’

‘How you bearing up?’ I say, hoping to raise a smile.

‘“Handmade bears” my bottom,’ she barks, ignoring my attempt at levity. ‘Those psychobabbling bears have Chinese sweatshop written all over their identical faces. Who’d choose her mass produced bears over my individually crafted teddies?’

Watching her slump into the armchair she reupholstered for my birthday, it’s clear Winnie is genuinely baffled. A former Home Economics teacher forced into early retirement because computers flummoxed her and children using sharp objects and hot ovens were deemed a Health and Safety nightmare, Winnie’s creative talents turned to fund raising.

As Craft Club chatelaine, Winnie’s practical instructions ensured knitted bunnies and crocheted cats made for the village fete flew from the soft toy stall. Perennially popular were her patchwork bears wearing wonky snouts and hilarious expressions. ‘Individuality is key,’ Winnie constantly reminded us and ‘we are not at home to waste’. Living by example, she wore reimagined charity shop clothes and turned ‘pre-loved’ items into soft furnishings.

‘You’re so imaginative with your recycling,’ I once observed after reading, “Make do and Mend,” her weekly VV column, “’ Why not write a book?’

‘No time,’ she replied, ‘what with my community activities and Craft Club.’

I quite enjoyed Craft Club. The soothing click clack of knitting needles, cosy chats about chutneys and patterns. It ceased when Chanel arrived in the village promoting ‘self love’ and ‘spiritual growth.’ Gradually, members stayed home preferring Chanel’s virtual TediBear Yoga and Mindfulness classes to a freezing village hall.

Confession time. I’m a Chanel fan. Thanks to her, Yeoward’s enjoying a renaissance. Instead of moving away, youngsters have jobs a plenty at iBear Village. The pub is stuffed with Hipsters enjoying TediBear vegan sausages and home brewed wheat beer while locally sourced produce is flying off my shop’s shelves and into the reed woven baskets of city folk driving electric SUVs.

It’s no surprise Winnie refuses to acknowledge Chanel and the internet have saved Yeoward. After Chanel replaced her on the Parish Council, Winnie unravelled like a threadbare jumper. This rival fete has finally knocked the stuffing out of her. It’s time, as TediBear preaches, for ‘Tough love.’ Sticking my mobile under her nose, she recoils as if confronted with a scorpion.

‘Look at it, Winnie,’ I insist. ‘Even the Village Voice will be published online from next week. It’s time you embraced the internet - and your future.’

She hurrumphs but defeat makes her malleable as wet clay. Scrolling through sites I know will interest her, she grumbles and gripes. I dare not repeat her opinion of Stitching&Bitching and MacrameMagic. When, finally, she grabs my mobile saying, ‘I could do that - with crocheted knobs on,’ I know she’s hooked.

VV Online. March 13TH 2022.

‘MAKE DO AND MEND’ GOES VIRAL

The antidote to consumerism, Winnie Wittering’s ‘Make do and Mend’ online videos have gone global. From cookery to clothing, our columnist’s no-nonsense, easy to follow renovation and craft workshops are tapping into the national zeitgeist. BBC Podcasts and ebooks revealing Winnie’s upcycling secrets are planned.

Her agent and video director, Edna Dean, says ‘This year Winnie is collaborating with TediBear on a combined village fete dedicated to home crafting. We’re committed to cutting carbon footprints and converting our ‘throw away society’ to one which ‘makes do and mends.’

Chanel posted, ‘Learning so much from Winnie, ubercool maker and shaker.’

Asked how she’s coping with celebrity status, Ms Wittering replied, ‘I’m bearing up.’


Published in Issue #26

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